Retailers, Restaurants Adopt Different Techniques to Serve Customers Heading into 2021, Says Phillips Edison’s Emerging Trends Report

by Alex Tostado

Cincinnati — Retailers and restaurants have adopted new techniques for serving customers in the midst of a global pandemic, according to Phillips Edison & Co.’s (PECO) Emerging Trends report. PECO says the most intriguing storylines to watch heading into 2021 are the rise of ghost kitchens, “groceraunts” and drone delivery. The Cincinnati-based company released the report as part of ICSC’s virtual ReCon event in New York City.

Ghost kitchens are kitchens that cook and prepare food for delivery-only. Some national brands such as Fatburger, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, Shake Shack, Fazoli’s and Bloomin’ Brands have begun utilizing ghost kitchens to provide takeout and delivery service without opening a storefront. In addition, third-party delivery service DoorDash has introduced DoorDash Kitchens, a concept that provides customized kitchen space for five restaurant operators offering delivery and takeout service through the DoorDash app.

“Groceraunts” refers to the partnerships between restaurants and grocery stores, here restaurants open a location within a store. PECO notes that the trend began in 2017 between Meijer and Wahlburger’s, and has since expanded to partnerships such as Kroger and food truck ClusterTruck, as well as Giant and Saladworks.

Though drone delivery has been a topic of discussion for 18 months, Walmart took the lead during the pandemic, partnering with Quest Diagnostics and DroneUp to deliver COVID-19 testing kits in select markets. Walgreens has also ramped up drone deliveries, making five times as many deliveries than before the pandemic in Christiansburg, Virginia.

“As a national property owner, we have a front row seat to what’s occurring across the U.S., and we remain bullish on the future of retail,” says Ashley Casey, PECO’s Director of National Accounts, West. “The industry continues to evolve, and while change is never easy or smooth, forward-thinking retailers will always find a way to stay relevant by meeting their customers where they are and catering to their preferences.

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